A first half demolition of Derby County gave Brentford their first home win of the 2019/20 season. Ollie Watkins scored twice after Bryan Mbeumo had opened his account in English football to give The Bees the lead. That goal was followed within 90 seconds by the first for Watkins and he added a third before half time to make the game safe.
The 3-0 win was the least Brentford deserved for a comprehensive dismantling of Derby, particularly in the first half. The Bees created a series of chances, playing some incisive and entertaining attacking football. The second period was not quite as dominant, with Derby having a renewed determination to keep the score down, but there was never any doubt where the points were heading.
There was a good tempo to the game from the first whistle. Derby’s attacking midfield players joined striker Jack Marriott in getting high up the pitch. They invited Brentford to try and play through or around them to progress up the pitch and The Bees were able to find gaps in the opening stages to work attacking positions.
Brentford could have been ahead inside the first ten minutes with a series of chances, starting from a right-wing corner by Mathias Jensen. The delivery was just too high for Henrik Dalsgaard to head in but, from the second phase, Sergi Canós weaved in to the penalty area and let fly with a shot that Kelle Roos had to save away to his right. The ball was still to cleared and Jensen set up Canós again in the inside right channel, but he was unable to force a shot in or get the ball across the box.
Christian Nørgaard shot over for The Bees soon after when Watkins laid a Canós pass in to his path and there were signs that Brentford’s direct running at the Derby defence would soon reap its rewards. But the visitors also had an attacking mindset. Marriott got away from Julian Jeanvier and saw a shot blocked by Pontus Jansson before a looping header from Richard Keogh was saved. Tom Lawrence then may have done better when he found space 25 yards out but he pulled a shot wide.
The threat posed by The Bees was turned in to a two-goal lead just before the 20-minute mark with the front three able to open Derby up. The first goal came when The Bees won a midfield battle and a delightful turn from Saïd Benrahma gave him the freedom of the Derby half. A clever pass put Watkins through and he rounded Roos but found the penalty area packed and his shot was blocked by Keogh. It did, however, fall perfectly for Mbeumo to slot it past the defenders on the line and give The Bees the lead with his first goal in English football.
If that had Derby rocking, 83 seconds later when The Bees went two up, the noise reverberated around West London. Canós, probably Brentford’s brightest spark during a superb first half display, played a pass that released Mbeumo in the inside right channel. His ball took out Keogh, the one remaining defender, and Watkins slotted home with ease. Two passes had turned a defensive position in to an open goal and Watkins gleefully fired home.
Derby tried to respond and when Lawrence got free of Canós on the right his cross was just too heavy for Martyn Waghorn to force in. But the difference in the attacking patterns of play was a stark one. As soon as there was a fraction of space for Brentford to exploit, they attacked with numbers and at pace and Derby could not cope.
Benrahma lashed over from 22 yards after turning well in the centre of the pitch and the Algerian attacker stung the palms of Roos with a fierce shot after a free kick had been half cleared. When Watkins sent the irrepressible Canós away down the right again there were four players to pick out in the middle, Rico Henry was found but the shot flew high over the bar. Jeanvier had a shot blocked when a corner was played low and The Bees had legitimate claims for a penalty late in the half. Benrahma picked out Mbeumo in the inside right channel and he weaved inside before letting fly with a shot that was blocked by the arms of Keogh well above his head. But referee David Webb pointed for a corner rather than to the spot.
With half time approaching, Brentford turned the screw, determined to have the game won the by the break. Derby were offering no resistance to the attacking display of the home side and chance after chance came. Keogh was trying to hold his team together, but they kept giving possession away and the pressure was piled on. Nørgaard had a shot blocked and when Henry delivered the ball back in to the box, Jensen met it on the volley but it again hit a defender.
Benrahma had a shot deflected wide and from the resulting corner, the third goal came. The ball was played short, Benrahma picked out Jeanvier and while the first shot was blocked, it dropped to Watkins. The striker saw a first effort blocked, maybe even hitting Dalsgaard on the line, but he placed the second shot passed the defenders on the line and in to the net. There was still time for Benrahma to fire a free kick over late in the half as The Bees went in at the break with a 3-0 lead that could have been many more.
Derby had to make changes at the interval and made many. There was just one in personnel – with 18-year-old left back Lee Buchanan made the fall guy and Duane Holmes introduced – but there was also a change in shape and in outlook. Waghorn joined Marriott up front in an attempt to occupy Brentford’s three central defenders and Mason Bennett was introduced early in the second half as Derby went to a flat 4-4-2. Lawrence was wider on the left and he cut inside before blasting wide just after half time. The wide man then ran from deep before shooting wide of David Raya’s near post.
But Brentford were still able to play through. A simple pass from Jeanvier ripped a giant hole in the Derby midfield, Benrahma found Mbeumo and the little ball inside was fired wide by the late arriving Canós. There was a better chance moments later when Nørgaard split the home defence, Mbeumo raced free and was able to round Roos but was forced wide, he unselfishly found Watkins rather than shooting and the eventual effort was diverted away by Keogh.
Canós fired wide when Jansson nodded down a Jensen corner and it took a superb tackle from Krystian Bielik to prevent Mbeumo going through on to a Jensen pass with only Roos to beat. Dalsgaard then headed a corner wide before, at the other end, miss-controlling a high ball and giving Waghorn a run on goal but Jansson was back to block.
The game meandered to a close after the hour mark. Brentford continued to press forward but lost a fraction of sharpness as they tired while Derby battled to keep the score down. The visitors, for their part, tried to attack but lacked the incisiveness needed to create openings. They changed shape again with Marriott withdrawn but this did little to affect the flow of the game.
There were late chances for Brentford to get the third goal they probably deserved. Watkins got away on the right and delivered a ball that just eluded the arriving Joel Valencia, on to make his first Brentford appearance as a substitute. And Watkins could have grabbed his hat-trick when Kamohelo Mokotjo put him away, he tried to lift a ball over Roos, but the goalkeeper blocked with his chest to keep it at 3-0. But that was a minor victory on the day for Derby as Brentford had far more to cheer.
Brentford: Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Jeanvier; Canós, Nørgaard, Jensen (sub Mokotjo 73 mins), Henry; Mbeumo (sub Žambůrek 78 mins), Watkins, Benrahma (sub Valencia 82 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Pinnock, Dasilva, Forss
Derby County: Roos; Lowe, Keogh, Bielik, Buchanan (sub Holmes h/t); Huddlestone, Dowell (sub Bennett 52 mins); Waghorn, Knight, Lawrence; Marriott (sub Paterson 76 mins)
Subs (not used): Hamer, Shinnie, Clarke, Davies
Bookings: Waghorn (45 mins), Lawrence (84 mins)
Attendance: 11,055 (1,676 away fans)